During my 20 years with newspapers I met some fabulous people who influenced and touched my life in ways I had never imagined could happen. Their strength and passion for living often changed the way I looked at things. In writing these posts, a memoir of sorts, I want to tell their stories to keep them alive. So many of the wonders we experience slip away as the years pass. Call it history if you must, I prefer to refer to these tales as keeping the beauty of life’s memories living.
Phydella Hogan’s recent birthday a while back reminded me of the day I met this fascinating lady. At the time she was 74 and had just published her book of poetry, Matchsticks. I still have the book which she signed for me. The poems are a collection of expressive emotions that reveal the innermost thoughts of this saucy poet.
Besides the book I also have memories of our talks. She was bright, full of energy and inquisitive. The previous May she had graduated with honors from the University of Arkansas and was pursuing a Master’s Degree. I guess what impressed me so much was her intense desire to learn all she could of the intricacies of life, of what made people tick. And most of all the happiness with which she greeted that life.
Many people are content to rest on their laurels at her age. I don’t think age meant much to her. What did was the exciting experiences waiting for her just around the corner.
A native Arkansan, she was born near Cave Springs and raised in Washington County. The beginning of her education took place at Zion, a rural one-room school from which she graduated the eighth grade.
She owned a small store in Fayetteville for years and was lovingly known as Miss Phydella by all who knew her. Her writing included two books of poetry and many columns for several weekly newspapers. The last time I spoke with her she was working on a series of children’s stories.
There my memories of knowing Miss Phydella end, but several years later I was fortunate to meet her son J. B. at the Washington County Historical Society. There is much of his mother in him. Today we share the same publisher and once in a while talk about the late Miss Phydella whose accomplishments continue to influence his life as well.